It all started when 21-year-old Robert, an econometrics student, developed mild symptoms. “I had a slight cough, but because I’m allergic to house dust mites and hadn’t cleaned my room in a while, I initially thought that was what was causing it,” he told EM. “Then we heard that a friend who had visited us the day before had tested positive. So I applied for a test as soon as possible. By now, both Jorim and I have tested positive, and Martijn is still waiting for his test results.”

“I came down with a cold last Sunday evening and my throat was a bit sore,” said 24-year-old Jorim, who graduated last year and is currently training to become an economics teacher. “That often happens to me in winter, and if this had happened a year ago, I would have been fine going to work. But since Robert had had that friend over, I decided to get tested anyway.”

The fourth resident of Huize Bommel, Jarné, 23, is in his final year of the Willem de Kooning Academy’s advertising degree and is the only one of the four young men who has not had any symptoms. “I’m the last man standing,” he said, laughing. “I’m not necessarily afraid of catching the virus, but it would be a pity if I were to be infected, say, a day before we are allowed to stop self-isolating.”

huize bommel quarantaine studentenhuis NSR foto Milena Chopova (3) (EM)
Jarné Image credit: Milena Chopova

Resident chef

Robert does not mind spending a lot of time in his room this week, because he was planning to spend the week revising for an exam anyway, but Jorim was about to have a week off. “This was not quite what I had in mind for this week,” he told us. “I was planning to meet up with a lot of people, but now I can’t.”

“When I heard we all had to self-isolate, I didn’t really mind at first,” said Martijn, 21, a third-year IBCOM student. “During the first lockdown, we had a pretty good time together. But obviously, this quarantine is very different. Now we have to take care not to infect each other, so we are keeping our distance from each other. Because if we do infect each other, we will have to self-isolate even longer. So basically, we all spend the majority of our time in our own rooms, and sometimes we talk to each other from the doorway.”

To prevent themselves from infecting each other or others, the students have implemented several rules. “The first thing we do when we leave our rooms is disinfect our hands,” says Robert. “Jarné does the opposite: he disinfects his hands before entering his room. He also gets to cook for us every night, because having an infected person prepare food for someone without any symptoms is not a good idea. Fortunately, he so happens to be our resident chef.”

huize bommel quarantaine studentenhuis NSR foto Milena Chopova (12) (EM)
Robert Image credit: Milena Chopova

Grocery deliveries

Getting groceries turned out to be a bit of a challenge, as well. “The evening we heard that Jorim had tested positive, we wanted to order groceries online,” Jarné told us. “We came up with a huge list of groceries totalling 200 euros, and then we discovered that not a single supermarket offers quick deliveries. Both Albert Heijn and Jumbo take a week to deliver an order. In the end I put on a face mask and went to the supermarket myself. At first I was happy to leave the house for a bit, but because we needed so many things, it took me an hour and a half to get everything. That was the first and last time I left the house.”

The boys will continue to self-isolate until Thursday. So what is the first thing they will do once they are allowed to leave their rooms again? “We will definitely organise a good flatmates’ night,” Martijn said without hesitation. As a matter of fact, it will be the last flatmates’ night for Jarné, because he will be moving out next month. “After ten days’ quarantine I’ll be completely fed up with it,” he said.